THE BOOK

FROM PHANTOM TO WARTHOG

Memoirs of a Cold War Fighter Pilot

Volumes have been written about the great fighter pilots of the past – the likes of Baron Manfred von Richthofen and Eddie Rickenbacker in the First World War; Johnnie Johnson, Robert Stanford-Tuck and Richard Bong in the second of the twentieth century’s great conflicts, Joe McConnell and James Jabara in Korea and Robin Olds and Randy Cunningham in Vietnam. Their skill, cunning and bravery, along with thousands of other airmen, are well and deservedly documented, but there are other characteristics of the fighter pilot that have not been given the emphasis they deserve – until now.

In this highly entertaining personal tale, retired USAF Colonel Steve Ladd gives the reader a slice of life through a fighter pilot’s journey from Undergraduate Pilot Training to senior leadership. The voyage is defined through a sequence of anecdotes, ranging from the deadly serious and ruthless to the emotional and exhilarating emphasizing the irreverent banter characteristic of the breed.

As the author admits, the reader ‘should not expect fireworks or stirring tales of personal derring-do – there weren’t any (well, there weren’t many)’, but he insists that he couldn’t call himself a fighter pilot without first having been bestowed with a man-sized ego and a surplus of self-confidence.

Instead, this is a tale of what life was really like in this rare fraternity of brash, arrogant, boisterous, young men who live life to the full, but totally zero in on ‘The job’ when in the cockpit of a sophisticated and brutal war machine.

Compelling account of a career spanning four decades, well-defined by the author’s personal anecdotes. Enjoyable and fast moving.